Dear Nadine Khan,
I am 54-year-old married woman. I have two daughters and a son. My children are married and my son lives in Oman and my daughters live in Karachi only. My daughters don’t have any of the usual problems like evil in-laws and mean husbands. After my children settled down, my husband and I planned to do things we couldn’t when we were young because back then we did not have enough time or money. We both like watching TV shows after dinner and Isha prayers, and like dining out and we had planned a couple of trips, too, but then Covid happened.
However, to enjoy ourselves, we got a 55” TV and had it placed in the living room. Actually, we have a small two-bedroom house and spend most of our time in the living room only. The problem started when my husband’s eldest brother started having problems with his wife and kids. He took retirement recently. Every other week, he fights with either his wife or children, and comes to stay in our house as we have a spare bedroom. Then he installs himself in front of our TV and watches whatever he wants till late at night. This thing is driving me nuts! I spoke to my husband about it and he says he also is not happy with the situation but he cannot tell his brother not to come. We have no privacy anymore and I am restricted to my bedroom as my brother-in-law doesn’t budge from the living room. He is having the time of his life! He just calls my husband to inform him that he is coming over for a couple of days and stays for at least a week. How can I solve this problem?
Dear Frustrated Woman,
It’s very frustrating indeed to be burdened with guests like your brother-in-law. Unfortunately, in our society people don’t have the sense to realise that their relatives have a life, too, and just because they have a spare room doesn’t mean they should be imposed upon. As far as you brother-in-law is concerned, he is a typical Pakistani male who doesn’t plan his retirement, and doesn’t know what to do with all the free time. In the west, people plan their retirement to avoid such problems. Here, people get into fights with their family members. Your house has become a sort of a hotel where he is getting free meals and entertainment, and he probably doesn’t even realise he is making you miserable.
Your husband is also right, as he cannot tell his brother not to come, but what you can do is to invite one of your daughters to come over and stay with you and tell your brother-in-law that there is no place for him to stay. Do it a few times and he will get the hint. If this doesn’t work out, ask your husband to speak to his brother’s family and try to get this thing sorted out. Good luck!
I am a 34-year-old married woman and I have two children. I live in a joint family system and my marriage was an arranged one. I used to work in a prestigious company in its marketing department and was earning quite well. Before our marriage, my parents-in-law assured my parents that I would be able to work after our wedding. However, when my leave was finished, my mother-in-law insinuated that she would like me to resign from my job. I thought I had misunderstood her initially but after that she started saying directly that married women should not work.
I spoke to my husband about it, but he thought I was overthinking. Then the usual drama started: I was told that the full-time maid had ‘quit’; my mother-in-law suddenly developed migraine and so many other ailments that she stopped doing any work; new maid could not be found, etc. As a result, before work, I had to take care of breakfast for my parents-in-law and their three siblings, and make lunch.
Few weeks after that, the part-time maid who used to do cleaning and washing also ‘quit’! I took few days off and found another maid but after a few days she also quit. This became a norm and my husband was so frustrated that he told me to quit. I left the job, had children and became a housewife. During this, things got normal, my MIL was miraculously healthy and the old maid came back. When my children became school going, the expenses increased exponentially. Now my in-laws want me to start working again, and my husband is also of the same view. Nadine, I was 26 when I got married, and my sons are now six and four. They are at an age when every day brings something new for me to enjoy, and I don’t want to miss anything! I realise we are financially stretched, and to ensure that my children receive a good education, I should work. The thing is, when I wanted to work, they made me stay at home and now they want me to start from scratch! I have been out of practice for eight years. It will be very difficult for me to start following a tough routine, but I know I can do it. I still have friends and ex-colleagues who will help me get back on my feet, but there is a deep resentment in me that is making me hesitate; they are so selfish that they made me give up my job when I wanted to work and now they expect me to forget everything they did! What should I do?
Dear Angry DF,
What happened to you is unfortunate but pretty common in our society. New brides are often subjected to this treatment and their husbands are scared to support them because they don’t want to be called ‘zun mureed’. Reality is that in this age and time, most middle-class households cannot give quality education to their children on a single income. Had your in-laws and husband allowed you to work, you could have saved money for your children’s education but thanks to their narrow-mindedness it did not happen.Your resentment is understandable, and your desire not to witness new things in your children’s life is natural. However, what you should think about is your children’s future. Quality education is getting more and more expensive and saving for higher education of your children should be your first priority. So, just to get back at your in-laws and your husband, do you want to deprive your children of good education? Think only about the welfare of your kids and do the best for them. Oh, and this time around, make sure that you are not burdened with household chores before going to work and after coming back, if you decide to start working again. Good luck!